Setting Goals For Weight Loss The Right Way

Photo of author
Published On

Your goals for weight loss can make or break your weight loss journey. If you do them the wrong way you’re in for some trouble.

The definition of a goal is the following: “the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result”.

Setting the right goals is one of the most powerful life-hacks you can use to achieve succes in every area of your life.

Why is setting goals so powerful

There are multiple reasons why having a certain goal for weight loss is an important and powerful thing.

1. Goals give you focus

This first reason is described beautiful in an excerpt from Alice in wonderland by Lewis Caroll.

“Cat: Where are you going?
Alice: Which way should I go?
Cat: That depends on where you are going.
Alice: I don’t know.
Cat: Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

When you don’t have a goal, you don’t know what to work towards. If you don’t know what to work towards it doesn’t matter what you do. This is usually a recipe for disaster. It’s easy to only eat chocolate in this situation.

However, that won’t make you happy or fulfilled in the long term.

By setting a good goal, you know what to focus on right now for long term happiness.

2. Goals allow you to measure

By having a good goal you can measure how much progress you are making towards it.

It holds you accountable to yourself. Did you do a good job? Do you need to make changes in your plan? If you want to take a cheat day in your weight loss journey what should the other days look like to stay on track?

What gets measured gets done and goals give you something to measure.

measuring weight loss goals

3. Goals can motivate you

Let’s say you have a vague idea of “I want to lose some weight”. You lose a few pounds which is great. You will probably feel some joy.

However it won’t feel nearly as rewarding as knowing you just went 20% closer to your goal.

By setting goals, and sub-milestones, for weight loss every step will feel more and more rewarding. This can help you push through un-easy moments and roadblocks.

4. Goals open up possibilities

This benefit is easier to explain with an interesting exercise.

Take a look around where you are right now and search for everything with the color blue.


Great now list every object with the color green without looking.

Now, unless you cheated you can’t do it.

Your mini-goal was to find everything with the color blue so you didn’t pay attention to all the other colors. That’s how your brain works.

When you have a clear weight loss goals you will pay less attention to the distracting things that don’t help you get to that goal. More importantly, it will help you find creative ways to get closer to your goals.

If you don’t have a weight loss goal you might never think of taking the stairs instead of the elevator for example. Or you might not do a small walk on your lunch break.

Setting the right goals for weight loss

Now you know the importance of setting goals for weight loss it’s time to set them the right way.

The first thing you need to do is make your goal specific in a measureable way.

First of all, this allows you to make a day-by-day plan of what you need to do to reach that goal. It’s no longer some vague idea of what you will do in the future. It’s becomes something you start actively working on right now.

Secondly it can hold yourself accountable.

Smart goals for weight loss examples

Up until now this might sound a little vague so here are some smart goals for weight loss examples.

“I’m going to fit in my size 4 pants in 4 weeks.”

“I will lose 20 pounds/kilos in 3 months.”

“I’m going to weigh 140 pounds in 4 weeks.”

It’s true that weight isn’t always the most accurate way to measure progress but for most people this is the most convenient measuring unit to use.

Try to pay attention to trends in weight instead of putting too much value on every individual measurement.

Smart goals for weight loss examples

What is a realistic weight loss goal per month?

The next question becomes, what is a realistic weight loss goal per month?

In general a healthy weight loss rate is considered to be a calorie deficit up to 500 calories a day. If you do it the smart way you might be able to go a bit higher.

One pound of body fat is about 3500 calories (one kg about 8000 calories). This means that a realistic weight loss goal per month would be around 4.2 pounds a month.

In the beginning you will most likely also lose some water weight, certainly when you’re starting a low carb diet so it might be higher than that.

If you exercise and do other things the right way a reasonable weight loss goal might be higher than that.

Once you have your monthly goal you can calculate back to daily goals for weight loss.

Long term weight loss goals

Now you might wonder “what is a good goal weight?”.

The ultimate way of setting long term weight loss goals would be a healthy body fat percentage. This is the amount of your total weight is because of body fat.

However, measuring body fat is quite the challenge. Body weight is more convenient.

The “right” body weight is a bit harder to determine for different individuals. One way is to use BMI. It’s not perfect but it can provide you with a fairly accurate long term weight loss goal.

If you’re planning on building a lot of muscle you might be considered “overweight” in terms of BMI while in reality you are at a healthy body fat percentage.

Long term weight loss goals

What to do with your goal

Setting a good weight loss goal is a great start but it’s not the whole story.

Humans are pretty forgetful and in certain situations, for example when you’re hungry, even more so.

To counteract this it’s extremely helpful to do 2 things with the goal you just set.

Number 1 is to write it down somewhere.

Number 2 is to re-read it regularly. This might sound a bit unnecessary but chances are you will otherwise slowly but surely forget about it.

The best thing to do is to read it first thing every morning. This will set you up for a day of succes time after time.

Another important thing is to remember that you will probably hit roadblocks, weight loss plateaus and have difficult moments. That’s okay.

The key is to deal with the punches and keep your eye on the goal you set.

Photo of author


Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.